Chicago Cubs 53-35 –
St. Louis Cardinals 46-42 7.0 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 46-43 7.5 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 38-49 14.5 GB
Cincinnati Reds 32-57 21.5 GB

If you would have told Cubs fans that they would be up seven games at the all-star break, I would imagine most of them would have gladly taken it. The Cubs are in fact seven games up at the break, but there is a lot of uneasiness on the north side.

The Cubs lost 9 of their final 11 games of the first half, and their brilliant pitching from early in the year has started to fade. They still have a big lead in the division thanks to a 17-5 month of April, but the Cardinals and Pirates are starting to believe they could make a serious run at them.

Chicago Cubs


Team ERA: 3.36 (2nd in the MLB)
Team wRC+: 109 (t-3rd in the MLB)
Team DRS: 34 (2nd in the MLB)

The big conundrum with the Cubs is do you look at them with the glass full or the glass half empty? The Cubs were 39-15 on June 4th, but finished the first half just 14-20. The Cubs were on a historic run differential to start the season, and it really shouldn’t have come to a surprise that they have come back down to earth. They don’t have as big of cushion in the division, but they are still 18 games over .500, and have a seven game lead in the division.

Player of the 1st half: Kris Bryant: .286/.384/.578, 25 HR, 153 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR
Biggest surprise: Wilson Contreras: .305/.387/.561, 5 HR, 153 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
Biggest disappointment: Adam Warren: 32.2 IP, 5.79 ERA, 5.93 FIP, -0.6 fWAR

Milwaukee Brewers


Team ERA: 4.51 (21st in the MLB)
Team wRC+: 86 (27th in the MLB)
Team DRS: 12 (t-13th in the MLB)

The countdown to the trade deadline is on for the Brewers. They haven’t been as bad as they could have been, but you can certainly tell they are in a rebuilding mode. They already shipped off Aaron Hill to the Red Sox, and that will likely be just the beginning.

Player of the 1st half: Jonathan Lucroy: .304/.361/.491, 11 HR, 121 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
Biggest surprise: Junior Guerra: 13 GS, 3.06 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.5 fWAR
Biggest disappointment: Taylor Jungmann: 5 GS, 9.15 ERA, 6.13 FIP, -0.1 fWAR

Pittsburgh Pirates


Team ERA: 4.39 (17th in the MLB)
Team wRC+: 103 (8th in the MLB)
Team DRS: 13 (t-13th in the MLB)

The Pirates were 35-39 and 14.0 games back on June 24th. There were rumblings that the Pirates would be sellers at the trade deadline, and could potentially trade superstar Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates finished the first half 11-6, and because of the Cubs struggles have found themselves now only 7.5 games back. The Pirates are also just 1.5 game back of the second wild card spot. All of those seller rumors have been put to bed for now.

While the Pirates have had several disappointments (McCutchen, Liriano), they’ve also had a bunch of surprises (Joyce, Rodriguez, Freese). They will be an interesting team in the second half. McCutchen has a 1.140 OPS over the last 7 days, and Gerrit Cole will be returning very soon (already made a couple rehab starts).

Player of the 1st half: Gregory Polanco: .287/.362/.500, 12 HR, 9 SB, 129 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR
Biggest surprise: Matt Joyce: .295/.420/.558, 8 HR, 164 WRC+, 0.9 fWAR
Biggest disappointment: Andrew McCutchen: .247/.319/.426, 14 HR, 99 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR

St. Louis Cardinals


Team ERA: 3.86 (8th in the MLB)
Team wRC+: 108 (5th in the MLB)
Team DRS: 5 (15th in the MLB)

The Cardinals have kind of been even keel throughout the first half. The Cardinals were 12-12 in April, 16-13 in May, 12-13 in June, and 6-4 in July. The Cardinals played average baseball down the stretch of the first half, but because of the Cubs struggles they have cut what was a 12.5 game deficit on June 19th down to 7.0 games.

Player of the 1st half: Matt Carpenter: .294/.420/.568, 14 HR, 162 wRC+, 3.1 fWAR
Biggest surprise: Aledmys Diaz: .315/.380/.536, 13 HR, 141 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR
Biggest disappointment: Randall Grichuk: .226/.287/.425, 10 HR, 89 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR

All NL Central first half team

C: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: .304/.361/.491, 11 HR, 121 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
1B: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: .299/.416/.591, 21 HR, 164 wRC+, 3.5 fWAR
2B: Ben Zobrist, Cubs: .283/.388/.467, 13 HR, 129 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR
3B: Kris Bryant, Cubs: .286/.384/.578, 25 HR, 153 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR
SS: Aledmys Diaz, Cardinals: .315/.380/.536, 13 HR, 141 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR
OF: Dexter Fowler, Cubs: .290/.398/.483, 7 HR, 6 SB, 138 wRC+, 2.7 fWAR
OF: Gregory Polanco, Pirates: .287/.362/.500, 12 HR, 9 SB, 129 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR
OF: Starling Marte, Pirates: .316/.363/.460, 6 HR, 30 SB, 123 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR

SP: Jake Arrieta, Cubs: 18 GS, 2.68 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 2.9 fWAR
SP: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs: 16 GS, 2.55 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 2.1 fWAR
SP: Carlos Martinez, Cardinals: 17 GS, 2.85 ERA, 3.50 ERA, 1.9 fWAR
SP: Gerrit Cole, Pirates: 12 GS, 2.77 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 1.7 fWAR
SP: Junior Guerra, Brewers: 13 GS, 3.06 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.5 fWAR

RP: Seung Oh, Cardinals: 45.1 IP, 1.59 ERA, 1.79 FIP, 1.4 fWAR
RP: Hector Rondon, Cubs: 31.1 IP, 1.72 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 1.0 fWAR
RP: Mark Melancon, Pirates: 36.2 IP, 1.23 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 0.8 fWAR
RP: Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers: 38.1 IP, 2.35 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 0.6 fWAR

Pitcher of the 1st half: Jake Arrieta, Cubs: 18 GS, 2.68 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 2.9 fWAR

Batter of the 1st half: Kris Bryant, Cubs: .286/.384/.578, 25 HR, 153 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR

32 Responses

  1. Mike Baldrick

    Bruce has better numbers than any of those OF. Good day!

  2. Big Jilm

    Surely Matt Carpenter beats out Zobrist at 2B. Right?

    • Patrick Jeter

      Yeah, I think I give the edge to Carpenter, as well.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Carpenter has played more than twice the number of games at 3B compared to 2B. Can’t really consider him a 2B.

      • Patrick Jeter

        Ahh. Well. There’s that, I suppose.

  3. Steve Mancuso

    Great post Nick. Love reading the All-Division teams.

  4. Patrick Jeter

    Kris Bryant at 5.0 WAR in the first half. That dude is crazy.

    2013: Led all college in HR
    2014: Led all minors in HR
    2015: Led spring training in HR
    2016: MVP?

  5. WVRedlegs

    Three weeks from today is the trade deadline. It will be very interesting to see what the the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates do between now and then. The division is starting to get closer at the top.
    Fortunately, none of those teams will be involved in any Jay Bruce trade talks. The trade market is a little iffy for corner OF’s now with a glut of possible trade candidates.
    If Bruce has to go, I hope the Reds are in some serious discussions with the surging Houston Astros. Besides Springer, the Astros OF and DH offensive output is ridiculously low.
    Rasmus .245/.325/.401; 11 HR, 42 RBI
    Gomez .217/.282/.332; 4 HR, 23 RBI
    Gattis .215/.281/.421; 13 HR, 36 RBI
    Marisnick .189/.248/.262; 1 HR, 7 RBI

    Astros will need some help to win their division. Bruce with a pitcher added in might increase the return. Maybe Finnegan. Astros could use a starter or a big bullpen arm.
    Note to Dick Williams, engage the Astros early. Don’t use the tired Walt maneuver of waiting for a team to come to you.
    We can’t expect Alex Bregman in a trade return, but maybe OF Derek Fisher.

    • IndyRedMan

      Mets are hurting too….I’d take Conforto for Bruce in a heartbeat? For some reason I think Cingrani would be a good fit with the Cubs.

      • TR

        I imagine it would be tough for Cingrani to pitch for the Cubs since he’s a born and raised southsider.

  6. IndyRedMan

    No offense intended but do you know your 1st half divisional MVP Polanco hit .218 with risp and .167 w/2 outs risp! 78 atbats with risp = 50 rbis

    Adam Duvall meanwhile hit .310 w/risp and .303 w/2 outs risp! 71 atbats w/risp = 61 rbis

    Now if I had to win 1 game….personally Fowler/Marte are both leadoff men and I’d want a banger so I’d go with Duvall > Fowler

    • Nick Kirby

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I personally don’t take RISP stats as meaningful in any way. They are small sample sizes, and fluctuate year to year. Fowler and Polanco were both better hitters overall than Duvall using just about any worthwhile measure. Duvall was a slightly better hitter than Marte, but Marte also stole 30 bases and plays elite defense. I love Duvall, but I can’t put him ahead of those three without being biased.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Hitting with RISP is no more relevant to determining the MVP than is hitting on Thursday. Neither one is a skill separate from just hitting. Countless studies have shown this.

      • seat101

        Hitting on Thursdays when your team is not playing is a very hard to find skill, fyi

      • IndyRedMan

        Is driving in runs still important? That’s Duvall’s and Polanco’s job where they’re at in their order. 61 to 50 advantage Duvall and thats with 7 less opportunities w/risp. I’d add to that that the guys hitting in front of Polanco could outrun every non-Hamilton Red running backwards. I know…I know rbis, wins, batting average…its all old-school and worthless! I’m a dinosaur! A dinosaur that preached on a daily basis in the off season about signing Dexter Fowler when next to nobody including the Cubs wanted him. I guess the Cubs need him now…don’t they?

      • lwblogger2

        I really think Fowler wanted to be a Cub and was in some sort of discussions with them for a big part of the off-season. I thought he was certainly going to my O’s but he signed for less with the Cubs. I don’t think there was any way the Reds could have had him.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Just for reference, any time you cite batting average and you don’t have around 900 at-bats (or so), it’s fairly worthless.

      Obviously it is a sliding scale. 700 is better than 500 is better than 300.

      • IndyRedMan

        Isn’t an All-whatever team based on the stats for that season alone? All I know is I’m glad they still post certain stats for simpletons like me. I like the percentage of how the hitter does w/a man on 3rd/1out. That’s now random to me! A lot of guys can hit til the pressure is on. I’m sure that’s a meaningless stat too

  7. IndyRedMan

    I see your point but Fowler isn’t normally a .290 hitter either. Its an interesting debate!

  8. Nick Kirby

    It felt weird not having a Red on the list, but honestly Bruce and Duvall weren’t even close for me. Only player close was Cozart.

  9. HawkeyeRedsFan

    Great post Nick. But one obvious mistake; you had no Reds relief pitchers on the team.

  10. sandman

    It’s really not that big a deal I guess, but I’m surprised that no Reds made your all NL central division team. Bruce, Cozart, DUVALL! You didn’t even include the Reds in your team overview section at the top. I know we suck right now but I’m sure you could’ve found the Reds Player of the 1st half, Biggest surprise & biggest disappointment. Just scratching my head wondering what’s going on.

    • Steve Mancuso

      That’s on the managing editor. Nick’s column Central Intelligence has the beat of covering the other teams in the NL Central, not the Reds. Idea is that the rest of the writing at RN covers the Reds.

      • sandman

        Steve, Sorry it took me so long to respond, my phone messed up. But, my apologies to you & Nick. I just didn’t realize what was going on. I should’ve paid attention to the logo. I understand the reasoning you gave but still it would’ve been nice to see who the Reds’ biggest surprise, best player & worst player would’ve been (in his opinion) and if any Reds would’ve made his all NL Central division team had the parameters included Cincinnati.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Notice the logo is the 4 other teams.

      • sandman

        Patrick, yes, I should’ve paid attention to the logo. That’s my bad.